HomeGround Deadline Extended

The closing date for the next round of HomeGround applications has been extended to 20 October. This program provides emerging regional artists with the opportunity to exhibit in a high profile exhibition space, to work with a professional curator to extend their practice and to benefit from mentoring sessions on a range of possible areas. Artists from Regional New South Wales are invited to submit a proposal that outlines their exhibition including ideas, concept or body of work and example images of work to support the proposal.

Successful applicants will work closely with the Western Plains Cultural Centre Curatorial team to realise their exhibition. Applications will be assessed in conjunction with the WPCC Exhibition Policy. HomeGround is limited to emerging artists from NSW only. An emerging artist is usually one in the first five years of their professional practice. A regional artist usually resides in an area with a Regional Arts Development Board. The assessment panel will be the final judges of these criteria.

Read the information package at WPCC

In the Studio with Chester Nealie

Recently the Orana Arts team had the privilege of visiting potter Chester Nealie at his home and Administration Officer Paris Norton shares her experience: 

As an artist and a new member of the Orana Arts team, this was my first experience of visiting the residence and workshop of an established artist. Winding up the drive, I was transported back in time. Surrounded by nothing but spectacular bush, with water-soaked earth under foot and only the sound of birds above. Even then I knew that this visit was going to be great.

Welcoming us into their home were the artist and his wife, alongside some wallabies and parrots who were watching curiously by the doorstep. Chester and Jan immediately inspired me; the wealth of knowledge they possess surrounding their own practice and their passion for all cultural artistic practices is impressive. I was immersed in collections of artefacts and artworks, all with an amazing story.

Over the next hour or so I would learn of Chester’s adventures and what inspires him. I learnt that when in China I must go to the street markets and look on the ground. It’s there that I will find the most extraordinary fragments of ceramics.  We bonded over a mutual interest in Maori culture and design, with Chester filling in blanks that I had been hoping to fill for some time. I was able to touch with my hands artefacts that were hundreds of years old whilst discussing Chester’s practice. His works have a raw beauty to them that I can see reflects the landscape he inhabits and the places he has been. What an honour it was to sit and sip tea with such a fantastic artist.

I pulled myself away from the treasures that line every windowsill and wall so that we could experience the workshop. Scattered pots, cups and teapots line the grassed slopes of his yard. ‘It’s better to leave them there than on a table’ he said. ‘The wombats just knock over everything otherwise.’ I had a quiet chuckle to myself, thinking of the trials and tribulations for a country artist verses a city one. Next we checked out Chester’s kiln and then a shack made of gorgeous orange-rusted pressed tin of all different patterns and textures. It is here that he keeps his pots both finished and mid-process. To my delight I spied more found objects lining the windowsills.

After a lovely morning I left the property hoping that this would not be my last visit. As an artist, it was refreshing to meet someone who has created such a harmonious life with his art. Everything worked as one; he is never far from what inspires, his practice just off the back steps. It was a captivating experience that confirmed why I create art and why I want to pursue a career supporting artists.

In 2017 I will be off to China with my family. While I am there I will be visiting the street markets just as Chester advised and when my partner asks me why I’m searching the floors I will respond with ‘I’m doing a Chester Nealie’.

Chester and Paris.png

At the Exhibition: Dhuuluu – Yala (talk straight)

The Orana Arts team attended the opening of Aleshia Lonsdale’s 2016 HomeGround exhibition at the Western Plains Cultural Centre and Paris Norton shares her response:

A softly spoken woman – family in tow – stands outside the doors of the gallery at the Western Plains Cultural Centre.  Adjusting her glasses, she stands there quietly, avoiding the fuss and attention of the crowd that grows in anticipation of the new HomeGround exhibition. Many don’t know, but she is the main event, the mastermind behind an incredible collection. She is Aleshia Lonsdale.

As you enter the gallery space you approach a wall with a quote just slightly above eye level. Immediately you feel dominated. It’s a quote about the removal of children with comparison to the stolen generation. We learn from this that we are battling in today’s society a far bigger problem than we might assume. Taken aback by the quote you move along a narrow walk way. The wall blocks sight of the other artworks making you feel like one of many sardines in the can as you squeeze your way through the crowd. Behind opens up a rabbit warren of walls and artworks. Where do I look first? You can’t help but see that this style of entrance was curated to set the emotion and complexity of the topic.

The artworks speak of complex conditions and realities of Aboriginal communities and the forced removal of children from their families. Works that hit you in the places that make your belly turn as you think of your own child and the life you so desperately fight for them to have. It makes you hold them that little bit tighter and watch as they are fascinated by the red and yellow petals that flow against the wall and onto to the ground. My son is taken simply by the pretty colours, completely unaware that his imagination plays with representations of fallen children.

A clothesline of baby clothes displays the inner pain and thoughts of those affected by this system hang beside you, protest signs in sand line walls, the tears that the deaf hears do not seem to hear fall from the celling.

The bravery of Aleshia’s voice is astounding. Her works are done so simply and so well yet her voice speaks for thousands of stories and most importantly her own. She talks straight to you. No fuss. I feel extremely privileged to have my name alongside this artist in the Orana Arts Left Field Project and I can’t help but feel a little giddy as I wander around the works, completing my fourth loop before I give in to my child and take him home.

Aleshia’s work hooks you like a honey trap. They are beautifully put together with a quality to them that draws you in and urges you to look closer. It’s then that you realise the important and not-so-pretty messages they hold. Her work creates conversations that need to be started. I hope her work inspires others to question those ‘well-intentioned policies’ and reflect on our own views.

Her work is a blinding bright light for the future of Aboriginal contemporary art and I am eagerly ready to walk in her footsteps.

Orana Region Writing

There are a variety of groups around the region for budding writers to share their work and hone their craft. Here are a few opportunities for literary connection:

Coona Writers
A newly formed writers group to help, encourage and share writing. Meets at the Coonabarabran Library. Get in touch via the CoonaWriters Facebook Group.

Cudgegong Valley Writers
CVW meet in Room 2 of Club Mudgee on the second Friday of each month,
12–3pm. Anyone with an interest in writing is welcome to attend. They hold competitions and workshops, monthly themed readings and writing trigger games. Contact Jill Baggett for more information.

The Orana Writers’ Hub
Run by the Outback Writers’ Centre, the Orana Writers meet regularly in Dubbo. Contact Val Clark or visit the Outback Writers’ Centre for more information.

Point Blank Writers
Run through the Gilgandra Shire Library, this group meets once a month and have a different workshop on writing each meeting. All welcome – to join contact Gilgandra Shire Library on 6817 8877 or via email.

Orana Artist: Denise Faulkner

Meet Gulgong’s Denise Faulkner!

Tell us about your artistic practice:
I am watercolour painter who focuses on painting the local wildlife, especially the local birds, and our relationship with them. This often means placing my birds in situations which we as humans find comforting and normal, but are completely unfamiliar to them, as wild creatures. Through my paintings I endeavour to say something about the personality or behaviours of our avian friends, whilst adding a touch of whimsy, because who doesn’t need a touch of whimsy these days?

Proudest professional/creative moment?
Every time someone buys one of my paintings. I am always surprised and humbled that someone is willing to pay for one of my artworks and put it up on their wall and want to live with it every day. Also receiving a phone call from the director of Michael Reid’s gallery at Murrurundi asking whether I would like to put some of my paintings in their stockroom was a pretty exciting moment as well!

What inspires your work?
Having moved from the stress and chaos of the city, it took the move to the country to give me the inspiration and the time I was lacking. Where the only birds in the city were the noisy and aggressive ones, moving to a bush block outside of Mudgee I was surprised by the breadth and variety of birds which visited our bird baths, especially the small birds who would descend upon our bird baths in mixed flocks. At first I would just photograph them as they flit by in an attempt to identify them, from there it seemed natural to paint them. Over time I got to know the personalities of our regular visitors, so I started painting them in situations which would give a key to their personalities and habits.

What’s one thing that you wish you knew starting out?
Not to be afraid to be an artist. Twenty years ago I completed a Degree in Fine Arts through the National Art School in Darlinghurst and went straight from that to full time work. It took moving out here, having the peace and the time (and a fellow artist neighbour Merilyn Burch Carney putting my name on a group show poster), to actually make me pick up a paint brush again and start painting.

For more, follow Denise on Instagram and visit her website.